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Harbhajan on his post-2011 World Cup sidelining: I tried to ask Dhoni why, but I wasn’t given a reason

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Harbhajan Singh has criticised the BCCI for what he perceived as the mishandling of Indian legends such as Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman and Gautam Gambhir, besides himself, following India’s 2011 Cricket World Cup triumph.

The off-spinner, who announced his retirement from cricket last week, ended his career with 711 international wickets from 367 matches. Rated by some one of the greatest match-winners from the country, Harbhajan’s career went into a downward spiral after the 2011 World Cup win. Following seismic, the twirler played only 26 more matches for his country, with his last appearance coming way back in 2016, something which still remains a mystery to him.

Speaking to India TV, Harbhajan criticised the BCCI for their handling of him.

“I was 31 when I picked up my 400th Test wicket, and if a 31-year-old can pick up 400 wickets, then in the next eight-nine years, I feel I could have taken at least a hundred more. But after that, I didn’t get to play matches, neither was I selected. How can someone with 400 wickets be discarded is a mysterious story in itself, which hasn’t been unravelled yet. I still wonder, ‘What really happened? Who had a problem with me staying in the team?’

“When I do my own analysis, the conclusion where it’s taking me… I have written it in my book. I don’t want to reveal everything here because a lot happened from 2011 to 2020/21. If someone with 400 wickets is treated like this, I wonder how a youngster would be treated. In those days, those running the BCCI, at the helm, they could have handled it better. They fell pretty short when it comes to respecting and felicitating a senior player. Not just in my case, take the cases of VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh – he’s won us two World Cups – Gautam Gambhir. I think it could have been handled better.”

He also wondered why the successful 2011 World Cup team were disbanded soon after that triumph.

“After the 2011 World Cup win, the team that won the trophy never played a match together again, which is really surprising. One person can’t do anything about it. The entire management is involved, and the top people in the BCCI, what their thinking was, is beyond us. If after the 2011 World Cup, the entire team, that was so good, didn’t play another game together, is really surprising for me.

“Check the stats and try to figure out – why did the team not play together? If the team is capable of winning the World Cup, is the team not good enough to serve Indian cricket for even two more years? What was the need to disband such a team, to not play them together? One after another, they were all ousted without a reason. It’s not like they played only a few games, they had played together for 10 years or so. Without [giving] any reasons, even the players don’t know, and they’re all thinking what happened, including me. Should someone with 400 wickets be treated like this? Other countries salute those with 400 wickets, call him a legend.”

Harbhajan further added that he had tried to contact skipper MS Dhoni for answers, but was not given an explanation for not being in the fray for selection.

“I tried to ask the captain [Dhoni] why, but I wasn’t given a reason. I realized there is no point in me asking for the reason for this treatment, and who is behind it because if you keep asking and no one replies, then it’s better to leave it.”

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